August Camp Preview: Receivers/Tight Ends

The Colorado passing game promises to be more wide open than in recent seasons, according to the new offensive minds in Boulder. If it's to be effective, some playmakers need to emerge at wide receiver. Meanwhile, transfer Tyson DeVree (pictured) will get an opportunity to be a big part of the offense at tight end, as well.

Biggest Question I: Can Colorado stretch the field at receiver in 2006 without a proven deep threat? We're told the days of the dink and dunk are over at Folsom Field – at least for the fellows wearing black and gold. Instead, the CU offensive staff wants to implement a vertical passing game. But in order to do that, one or two of a handful of receivers will need to emerge and become dependable downfield targets.

Most eyes will turn to third-year sophomore Patrick Williams. At 6-2, 200 pounds, Williams has good size and he can get down the field in a hurry. But he's still learning how to be a receiver. He played quarterback in high school, then suffered two broken hands his freshman season. That means he's only been catching passes full time for roughly the past 16 months. But he's worked hard, and chances are that will pay off this fall.

Two others to look at are redshirt-freshman Jarrell Yates and true freshman Sherman Lang. Yates was out last year and much of the spring with a knee issue, but could break into the rotation in August. Lang has been impressive in 7-on-7 workouts according to teammates.

The other candidate could be Blake Mackey. Which brings us to Question II.

Biggest Question II: Mackey's battled a batch of bad luck the past four years at Colorado. Injuries have kept him mostly off the field except for the 2004 season, when he started two games and caught 26 passes. A sleek runner, Mackey has very good speed, but like anyone who suffers a season-ending knee injury – as Mackey did last August – he'll need to get his mental game straight as much as his physical game. A healthy and confident Mackey could bode well for the offense. Then again, that's been the case two of the past three seasons.

Meanwhile, the Buffs' leading receiver from a year ago, Dusty Sprague (43 catches), is back for his junior season stronger and faster than ever (he clocked a 4.48 40 in May). He's the odds-on favorite to lead the Buffs in receptions again in 2006, as he's the receiver currently that the quarterbacks on the squad feel most comfortable with.

Another player to watch at receiver is walk on Scott McKnight. Word is he's been hard to guard in 7-ons and that coaches except him to battle for playing time as a true freshman this fall.

Biggest Question III: How will the tight ends produce post-Klopfenstein and Sypniewski? Coaches like transfer Tyson DeVree's speed at the position. Tight ends coach Kent Riddle called DeVree a "big-play type guy."

Senior Paul Creighton is the best blocker of the group of tight ends, while redshirt-freshman Riar Geer combines some of Creighton's physicality with DeVree's pass-catching ability, according to Riddle. Senior walk-on Dan Goettsch missed some of spring practices because of a class conflict, but figures into the mix. Redshirt-freshman Patrick Devenny has moved from quarterback to tight end.

Two incoming freshman — Steven Fendry and Nate Solder — will get a look, too, though Riddle said ideally the pair will redshirt.

One thing for sure, Riddle said the tight ends will be a huge part of the offense this fall.

"They'll be playing tight end, playing in the backfield, playing receiver. They'll be at the point of attack, they'll be on the backside. They're going to do a lot of different things and have a lot of different opportunities," he said.

Receivers/Tight Ends
81 Justin Adams, TE, 6-1, 235, So.
8 Alvin Barnett, WR, 6-0, 190, Jr.
16 Cody Crawford, WR, 5-11, 175, So.
30 Paul Creighton, TE, 6-5, 250, Sr.
5 Patrick Devenny, TE, 6-3, 230, Fr.-R
84 Tyson DeVree, TE, 6-6, 245, Jr.
32 Brandon English, TE, 6-4, 235, Sr.
93 Steve Fendry, TE, 6-4, 245, Fr.
87 Riar Geer, TE, 6-3, 250, Fr.
46 Dan Goettsch, TE, 6-5, 245, Sr.
85 Nick Holz, WR, 5-11, 180, Sr.
6 Reggie Joseph, WR, 6-0, 185, Jr.
13 Michael Kachmer, WR, 6-0, 180, Fr.-R
82 Sherman Lang, WR, 5-11, 175, Fr.
9 Blake Mackey, WR, 6-3, 200, Sr.
38 Chase McBride, WR, 5-8, 160, Jr.
Scott McKnight, WR, 5-11, 185, Fr.
88 Devin Shanahan, TE, 6-5, 220, Fr.-R
15 Charlie Sherman, WR, 6-1, 195, So.
92 Nate Solder, TE, 6-8, 245, Fr.
83 Dusty Sprague, WR, 6-4, 195, Jr.
4 Patrick Williams, WR, 6-2, 200, So.
80 Jarrell Yates, WR, 6-0, 185, Fr.-R

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